Books by Scott

           

Friday, August 10, 2018

So, just how cool is Google Docs.

Hint: It’s very cool.

Today’s post is a digression from the Norse Mythology. I have written in the past about discovering Neil Gaiman, Traveling across the realms, and Mimir’s head. But I also once wrote on writing process, taking on the old Panster vs. Plotter tavern game. Today, I want to return to writer’s methodology, and take a bit of a geek twist.

Recently I’ve been studying web development, and I put a Linux partition on my home computer. Having booted into it, I want to see how long I can stay there. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to VPN into work for a remote session, but otherwise, and obviously, if I’m to stay in Linux I will need to be able to write there, and have my work backed up on the cloud.

I have been using Microsoft Office and One Drive. They work together seamlessly as I’d expect. But on Linux it appears to be a bit difficult. There is now Word, of course. And connecting to One Drive, after Googling it, seems doable but seriously geeky.

Google Drive, on the other hand, mounts right up and is available in the file browser, all easy-peasy. I might add that I’ve been a Unix/Linux administrator, have passed college level course work on Unix, and when I took remote courses at Florida State, their servers were all Unix/Linux. So, I’m comfortable in the environment, I’ve built kernels and all that heavy hitting stuff, but that’s not the experience I’m after here.

So, Google Drive, and then that means I guess, Google Docs. I started typing out a new story idea last night, a paranormal romance. And what did I think of the experience. The program is featured enough for writing fiction, that’s not a problem. And what is super-cool, is I can access it anywhere I have a browser and internet.

I have a Chrome Book, someone gave it away for free and I haven’t tried it much until last night. But I found that I can type in my easy chair on the Chromebook, and when I get up and go over to the Ubuntu desktop, the words are on the screen too. Now I’m on another computer and have accessed it with Firefox, and there it. Seamless, effortless, cross-platform document editing, all thanks to the geniuses at Google.

Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to say this.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Ambiguity of Norse Mythology

Writing into the Gap:


I am working up a fantasy novel based on the Norse Mythology, and as such, I have been reading a lot on the subject lately. What started as the means to an end, having the material in hand to craft the story, has grown to a bit of an academic delight. The thing about Norse Mythology, as you are likely aware since you are reading this, is the lack of one precise cannon on the subject. The original stories of the oral tradition were written down much later in Ice Land after the folk had become Christians. So, the academic arguments often involve questioning what is true and what has been added to make the stories conform to the new religious beliefs.

What makes Norse Mythology interesting as a backbone to hang a fantasy world upon is the uncertainty and ambiguity in the sources. There are a lot of gaps to write into, and as Marvel has shown us, certain creative liberties can be taken; though for my story, I hope to be truer to the spirit of the original, as much of that as can be gleaned from the “original” source material - the Edda and the Sagas and some other Germanic writings such as those from Saxo Grammaticus - and by reading the various academic interpretations of these sources.

There is always ambiguity because what we know is gleaned from a passage here and a passage there, and the different poems and stories may contradict each other, so I grapple with deciding what is the version I wish to present. Ultimately, I am looking to craft an adventure, but I do wish to present this fantasy world in a reasonable way. 

Early on, I wrote of Mimir and the Well of Wisdom, an important part of the story as my heroine seeks self-knowledge. In the myth, Mimir loses his head and is brought back to life by Odin. Odin sacrifices an eye to gain wisdom from the well, but what’s the timeline exactly? And where is Mimir's head exactly?

Here I link to a picture at vrilology.org.


And here I link to another image, this one at germanicmythology.com


Other questions I have resolved to my own liking involve Freya and Frigg, separate entities or not, and the “true” story of Balder. Both of these I hope to recount here shortly as I would find an author’s notebook on my studies a good thing to have, and perhaps a few others may think so as well. 

But, if I don't get back here for a while, yes, Freya and Frigg are the same, and as for Balder, I choose Snorri.

Until next time ~~

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Plotter vs. Panster in Mimir's Well, Norse of the New North

I just finished the final chapter of Mimir’s Well, a series of short reads in the fantasy genre playing to the Norse Myths. I must say, the last chapter came from my Muse a week after I penned the second to the last chapter. The hesitation was because my main character, Gunnhild, had a BIG decision to make.

I must say, that in the panster vs. plotter debate, I am evolving towards plotter, but not without pitfalls. Just today, I retweeted a tweet from a fellow writer who said, (and I paraphrase, looking to catch the essence of the post) that she plots, but her characters have a mind of their own. I say that I am evolving towards plotter from panster because to be truly prolific as a writer, an author should know where the story is going. That being said, most times, for me, in the beginning, the end is not known.

I didn’t know, but at last, I trudged on. I left the reader in suspense because up until I typed in the words, I wasn’t sure what she would do.

My protagonist failed to let me down. She did what she had to do. 

Being the first episode in a series, she left me wanting to know what would happen next. Spoiler alert, she left me wanting to know what would happen next. 

So, not much of a spoiler except to say, if you get to read the first episode, which means I’ll actually have to publish it for Kindle, you’ll want me to hurry up and get onto the next, which I fully plan to do. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Stay tuned.

Monday, February 19, 2018

A Unified Norse Mythology Not – How to get from Asgard to Jotunheim

How does a Norse god get around from realm to realm? As I set upon my latest adventure to create fantasy stories set amongst the Norse Myths, the first thing I discover is confusion. Most cursory overviews on the web say simply, Thor traveled to Jotunheim. But how exactly did that occur?

In the story, Thor and Geirrod, first Loki borrows (or steals) a magic set of wings from Freya (or Frigg), and once transformed into a bird of prey (falcon or hawk) he flies to Jotunheim. Later, he must return with Thor. A retelling of this I like is found at thenorsegods.com. I like it because it describes a bit of the journey, and it coincides with what I recall from reading longer works on the subject, such as the one from Gaiman. In this story, Thor and Loki get into Jotunheim directly from Asgard by crossing the river Ifing. 

But there are more ways to get there than that. In the story, Thor’s Journey to Utgard, again according to the story presented at thenorsegods.com, Thor and Loki start off in Thor’s chariot drawn by two goats. They traverse Bifrost to get to Midgard, and from there, they cross a river or ocean to get to the land of the giants. This helps clarify one of my confusions. The source of my confusion came from a graphic novel written for young folks called Gods Of Thunder, which is pretty good despite this and I should review it one of these days, but it states: “They crossed Bifrost, the Rainbow Bridge, into Jotunheim.” When I read this, I said, “Wait, Bifrost to Jotunheim? I thought it goes to Midgard.” Does anything make sense? Apparently, they just left out a step in the journey. I’m going with that.

When Thor’s hammer is taken, Thor and Loki once again travel to the land of the giants. This time they take Thor’s goat-drawn chariot, but the travel is quite different. At schmoops.com, the story simply states, “After much thunder and lightning, Loki and Thor arrive in Jotunheim.” And here’s a pretty cool account about their travel as described in a short retelling at fanzone50.com. “Mountains split open, forests burst into flames, and the rumble from the mighty wagon could be heard from a long way off.” This one fits closer to Thor of the Marvel Universe, but that’s an entirely different post for another time.

There are lots of different ways to get around. Over Bifrost to Midgard, with magic falcon wings, by crossing a river, or as a bolt of thunder. I guess, what’s important, is they get there so the story can continue. 

Another thought for another time is the realms are altered states and in some ways not unlike the computerized states of reality presented in the Matrix and more recently, Ready Player One. Or Jumanji, for that matter. In a post-Ragnarok new world, do the gods transcend the realms in 3D helmets? Just food for thought.

Monday, February 5, 2018

How I Discovered Neil Gaiman



I was once illiterate. I’m a little better now.

Being illiterate in the realm of literature has led me some amazing discoveries, which was kind of the point of being purposefully unread (maybe someday I’ll explain.) One example of discovery I wish to talk about now is the actual act of discovering a writer. In this case, Neil Gaiman.

Yes, Neil Gaiman is famous, a literary god among men, a chap who read voraciously as a child and grew up to write great novels and win awards and garner a cult like following. But I knew none of that at one time. I do now, and this is the story of why and how.

One day I spent my lunch in a used book store and was browsing the speculative isle when I picked up an anthology, turned to the middle, looked partway down the page, and read a sentence.

What makes a sentence good? Rhythm, sense and sensibility, word choice? All these things might be considered style, but they go much deeper really. What does the writing convey, and how do I, as the reader, connect?

Instantly, I was like wow. This works. (Mostly things don’t work out so well for me. But this did, and there was almost a sense of joy about it.) I read the rest of the paragraph and several more, and I decided here was a chap that made sense and expressed it succinctly yet personally and eloquently without actually being eloquent. In short, good stuff.

So, I looked to see who the writer was, made note, and returned to the office where I looked him up and came to find out how this guy was sort of a big deal. Cool. But that was that. I had to get back to work.

You see, even after all that, Neil had not made a sale with me. I was busy and tight fisted too.

Here’s what happened next. I got an email from Amazon offering the ten-year anniversary edition of American Gods at a reduced price. I thought to myself, hey, I’ve been meaning to check this guy out and here is my opportunity. Serendipity. And so I bought it and I enjoyed the book quite well – and this without me even knowing that Odin was a thing.

Anyway, the point I’m making is the only way I ever bought a Neil Gaiman novel for the first time was the result of a one-two punch. One was my discovering him in a used book store where his writing stood on its own merit and stood up quite well. The second was Amazon’s marketing, which at the time I thought what an interesting coincidence that they would send me this message when I was interested in the guy to begin with; but now I realize they probably knew I was looking at his works the other day so I’d be a good mark. And I was. They made the sale back when getting a sale from me was difficult, especially since books at the library are free.

The take away from this, if a person wants to sell a book, number one, the writing must be awesome, and number two, you’ve got to get enough of it out there that someday someone will open a book and actually read some of that writing. And then the number three is the right push at an attractive price-point. Easy peasy. If Neil can do it, so can we!
For my next post I should say how the author of Gilgamesh stole my idea. Until then. Read a book, my friends.